How to Make an Art Journal Page (Mixed Media Step-By-Step)
The enticing world of mixed media art is irresistible to journalers and artists. Who hasn't looked at those delicious layered pages or canvases and wondered how to get the look? The techniques are simple, and the key to obtaining those layers is: Do it layer by layer.
This is a simple guide to creating a mixed media journal page, although you could use any substrate (canvas, board, paper or wood). The example is inspired by —with this book and DVD, you can learn how to create whimsical portraits of pretty girls! Mixed-Media Girls with Suzi Blu
- Journal - or single sheet of watercolor paper (9" x 12"). I am working in my Strathmore Visual Journal, which has lovely 140 lb watercolor paper. It seems to be able to stand up to any punishment I can mete out.
- Acrylic paint - any old acrylic paint will do. I used three colors for the background: magenta, white and metallic gold. You choose your favorites, but beware of mixing three primaries (red, yellow and blue) together—you will get a muddy brown. But you will need a color for your girl's (or guy's) hair—maybe that muddy brown would come in useful after all! Titan Buff, or another skin-tone color, is useful for painting hands and necks, but you could cut them out of paper if you haven't got the right paint.
- Bubble wrap - mine was about half the size of the page, but it really doesn't matter about the size.
- Some scrapbook paper - patterned paper for the girl's dress, plain for her leggings and some torn-up printed text for the background collage (I used old map pieces). Sheet music is great for this too.
- A drawing of a face - or a photo cut from a magazine. You could also print one out from your computer.
- PVA glue - anything you've got.
- Rubber stamp & ink pad - optional. Mine is a text one, used with a dark purple ink pad. Black always works well.
- Crayons, pastels or water-soluble crayons - mine are Neocolor ll.
- Pens - colored markers, a ballpoint and a white correction pen.
- Pencil - charcoal pencil or soft graphite pencil.
Remember: You Can Improvise
One thing to remember with mixed media is that you can always change or adapt. If you don't have an image that you want, then draw it. If you don't have scrapbook papers, then tear up a magazine page or even junk mail. If you don't have Neocolor lls, then use your kid's Crayolas. There's no need to spend lots of dollars on art supplies—most of these things you will already have.
Step 1: Create an Acrylic Paint Background
The first step in your mixed media project is to create a background. First, paint your page with your choice of acrylic color. I used magenta, white and gold, and I scraped them all over the page using an old credit card. You can use a brush or your fingers or anything you like. Just get that first layer of paint down. Allow to dry.
Print With Bubble Wrap for Texture
Next, take your bubble wrap and place it on your work surface with the bubble side up.
- Take two of your paint colors and paint them haphazardly on to the bubble wrap.
- Carefully pick up the bubble wrap, turn it and press it down on to the page. Don't move it around, simply press down with the flat of your hand.
- Lift the wrap carefully and move it to another part of the page and press it down again. It shouldn't be necessary to apply more paint for the second printing.
- If there are spaces on the page, reapply a little more paint and repeat the process. Allow to dry.
Isn't that an easy way to create an interesting texture? You can't see the gold gleaming through on the scan, but it is there and adds depth to the background.
Step 2: Add a Torn Collage Layer
A torn collage is the next layer. Tear up your printed paper, whether it be text, newsprint or an old map like mine above. Use white glue to adhere the pieces to the page in any random fashion. Place some vertically or even upside down. Use more or less than I did—it's your page, so please yourself.
Step 3: Add a Thin Layer of White Paint
This step is quite important—it is for me, anyway, as I think the background looks quite harsh and bright without it. You may like yours the way it is, so feel free to skip this step.
Water down some white paint and cover the whole page. Allow to dry. Repeat as necessary. I think I used three applications with a little more on the map pieces. This process 'knocks back' the background.
Add the Face
Once the page was completely dry, I glued on my girl's head. You can see that I only drew a face and left the hair alone. If you are using a magazine cut-out, then cut off as much hair as you can before gluing her down. Experiment to see what placement looks best. Remember to leave room for her dress and legs (or not).
Step 4: Complete the Figure
Sketch out a rough outline of a dress on your scrapbook paper. It doesn't have to be in proportion: In fact, it looks cuter if it isn't. I painted her neck in to fit the dress. Again, try out different placements before gluing any papers down. If you can paint hands and want them showing, then go ahead. I'm going to have my girl holding a heart, so I don't bother.
Cut out some stick arms and legs, making sure they fit against the clothes with no unsightly gaps. I gave mine bright red leggings.
Step 5: Paint the Hair
Now it's time to paint hair. Choose a wild color, if you like. I used a mix of Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Venetian Red. Then I gave her gold highlights after the hair was dry.
Add Rubber Stamps
I applied my text-based rubber stamp over the page, on her dress and even on her neck. I had a little accident at this point and got some on her face. Sometimes it looks good, but in this instance, she acquired a beard. Not good. Luckily, there are no mistakes in mixed media and I simply covered it with Titan Buff paint.
Step 6: Write, Stamp or Glue Text
It's almost done. Stand back and see if you need to make any changes before going any further. I decided that my map pieces were still too bold and made a slightly heavier acrylic paint (Titan Buff) and water mixture and gave them a good seeing to. This time, they receded just the right amount.
Get Creative With Your Text
Add a pithy quotation, something in your head, a favorite song lyric, a line of poetry, an old saying. You can use markers to write it yourself, you can use rubber stamps or you can cut text out of magazines. I sometimes like to use a typewriter or Dymo font and print out my text.
Decorate the text by highlighting, adding white dots with a correction pen, outlining with gel pens.
Create a Border
Use crayons or pastels to make a rough border. Use colors that work with the colors already on the page. Rub colors with a finger to get a smudgy look. Unfortunately, my scanner is not quite large enough to see the whole thing; the border is all round the page.
I used a dark red marker to give her stripey leggings and glued a paper heart into place.
Step 7: Journal on Your Page
Rub a little charcoal pencil around the edges of the girl to make the collage look more integrated with the page. I added some final little touches with white correction pen.
Lastly, I took my trusty ballpoint pen and journaled on the page. Write about anything: the process of creating the page, what else is going on in your life or maybe something to do with the large text you already wrote.
Did you have fun? I hope so!
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Bev G